The LMS is a software application for administration, offering and monitoring of virtual or online courses , and some of these systems also support the management of classroom courses.
Too abstract for you? You will understand better.
Just as Microsoft Word helps you write documents and Gmail helps you manage your emails, LMS is a type of software that helps you create, manage and offer courses over the Internet. An LMS basically allows:
Organization in courses
Enrolling students in these courses
These platforms also have resources for evaluating performance and monitoring users’ progress.
Of course, this is a more general description of the characteristics that an LMS should offer. We will detail for you better what are the most common functionalities that a modern LMS has. We will also show what are the contexts of use, what benefits the use of an LMS brings and the future of this type of platform.
Types of LMS platforms
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The LMS basically has two contexts of use: Educational or Corporate. In the educational context it is used by educational institutions in which they make use of it as a tool to operationalize the offer of courses to their students or as a support tool for classroom courses.
In use by companies in general, it is used as a platform for corporate education , serving to train employees, customers and partners. In this way, it serves as a tool for employee development and impacts the organization’s results.
Many LMS vendors specialize in platforms with more suitable functionalities to serve educational institutions and others directed to meet specific corporate education needs.
Some platforms try to permeate both worlds, corporate and educational. However, this is a very big challenge because the needs are different and the approach and language itself is different.
Features of an LMS
Here we will put for you the most common features of an LMS, however it is not necessary that the platform contains all these features to be considered an LMS. It is up to you to analyze which resources are really important for your goal.
When choosing an LMS, it is important to correctly specify the features that your company needs through an RFI and RFP. By doing this you avoid one of the main reasons why LMS projects go wrong.
To help you in this step, Impulse offers an RFP and RFI model for you to use in your company. Download it by clicking on the image below:
Download the Learning Management Platform – RFP now
The main functionality of an LMS is the distribution of content to its users. Therefore, every LMS in some way has mechanisms for inserting and managing content.
These contents can be videos, audios, PDFs, files in general, animations, external links, HTML pages, SCORM packages ( e-learning content standard ), etc.
Some platforms have content creation features as well. This means, a tool that allows the user to create rich content, with images, videos, text, without needing more advanced knowledge.
Tests and research
Also very common among LMSs is the possibility of creating tests or surveys with various types of questions. Some examples:
True or false
Relationship between columns
Specifying settings such as time to complete the test, weight of questions, generating tests with random questions, are other possibilities that LMSs usually offer.
Web conferencing and chat
For some types of courses, synchronous interaction between the participants and the instructor may be important. Features such as the ability to meet virtually over the internet in real time using video, audio and text resources are quite common on platforms including available via smartphones and tablets.
The forums are a resource for proposing and discussing a specific topic. They are one of the most popular features of an LMS. In it, participants comment and respond in an organized way to a certain subject.
There is usually a moderator who guides the discussion with the intention of keeping participants engaged and that the discussion is not diverted to another topic.
Today the forums have collaboration resources not only by text but also by video, images, audio, links, etc. Many have built-in social networking features like liking, evaluating, and tagging specific people in discussions.
The social learning is one of the most effective ways of absorbing knowledge. Currently, the vast majority of platforms have informal learning networks, which allow users to connect, post content and interact privately or publicly.
Currently, many platforms are relying on gamification resources . These resources are the attribution of points, badges or achievements for users as they carry out actions such as:
Complete a training
Receive a higher than expected grade in an assessment
Contribute materials on the platform
These resources motivate users to always access the platform more and train more. Some organizations even give awards according to the employee’s performance in training.
Tasks and checklists
It consists of resources that allow users to submit files and content or perform tasks that can be evaluated by an instructor or a manager for example.
The checklists feature, specifically, can be very interesting to carry out a post-training evaluation on its application in practice.
This feature allows companies to sell courses on the internet.
Normally, the human capital management and learning platforms allow you to create a catalog of organized courses, informing the value and allowing users to make payment through the platform itself.
This e-commerce resource can be used, for example, to monetize training that already needs to be created for the internal public and start to be offered to an external audience.
The LMSs that also support the management of classroom courses have resources to perform the user’s presence (frequency) accounting and also manage all the programming and resources of the classes.
These platforms allow the allocation of instructors, necessary equipment, management of the classroom agenda, resources needed for the class and the instructor avoiding conflicts.
Reports and dashboards
These analytical features are increasingly needed today. Ideally, the LMS should offer the possibility for you to configure what information and how the information should be presented.
Many LMSs are relying on a kind of report builder that allows administrators to create their own reports and dashboards with graphs of different types according to their needs.
Advantages and benefits of an LMS
What is LMS
The advantages and benefits of using an LMS depend on its context of use. In the case of educational institutions, it is a key element in the offer and management of distance courses and also in the use as a platform of digital support for students.
Now, when we think about corporate education. The need for an LMS for the company to use for its employees is not always the advantages and benefits are different, but clear. below we highlight the main reasons and benefits that the implementation of an LMS platform can bring to an organization:
This is one of the first motivators that appear as an influencer in the implementation of a learning management system. An LMS reduces or eliminates several costs related to face-to-face training.
If any part of the training does not need to be conducted in person, or even all of it, you directly eliminate costs with the use of the site and the displacement of people to carry out the training.
In addition, once a course is implemented via the platform, it can be used repeatedly to train more people.
Many organizations have instructions that are essential for all or a certain group of employees to obtain in order to do their work properly. Certain organizations are even audited in relation to the training and guidance they need to pass on to their employees, and may receive penalties and fines if they do not comply with the regulation.
In this context, the LMS allows to indicate and track all the training that each employee profile must do. With this, it is possible to systematize the control of who did and who did not do certain training.
Several learning platforms have specific features to control compliance, such as expiration dates of courses taken, stating that the employee has to re-certify. This functionality ensures that the organization is always in compliance, for example.
Employees who regularly receive corporate training are more engaged than those who are not the target of training actions. Engagement is reflected in productivity and increased results for organizations.
Learning management systems in this sense allow employees to do more training and each one to follow at their own pace.
Agility in training
Today, with the existing features in the LMS, the creation of a training is very fast. There is not always the need to build content.
You can simply use existing content available on the Internet and then create a content track within a course in order to provide the user with the necessary knowledge and control their access to each of the materials. This makes it much faster to make necessary content available to a large number of people in a systematic and monitored way.
Diagnosis of the organization
The LMS also assists in the diagnosis of an organization’s employees. Various data are stored in the system, ranging from access, completion of courses with or without success, to time spent on certain content or evaluation results.
This information if organized and analyzed can reveal gaps of knowledge in a certain area. Above average employees who could be promoted and more relevant materials. Finally, a series of information that helps to have a better view of the strengths and challenges that an organization has.
This is an obvious advantage with the use of learning management platforms. The possibility of enrolling thousands of users in a given course and providing access to knowledge to a large audience of users is in fact one of the biggest advantages of using an LMS.
LMS hosting or use in the Cloud
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LMSs are web systems that need to be installed on a computer with server characteristics for their users to access. LMS vendors basically offer 3 models in this regard:
LMS hosted by the supplier on a dedicated server for the customer (private cloud or private cloud)
LMS hosted on Cloud or Cloud.
In the first model, the customer is responsible for having the infrastructure in terms of equipment necessary for the installation of the LMS. All infrastructure management, installation and updating of the software components necessary to run the LMS and backups is managed by the customer.
Companies that choose this model usually have a well qualified IT team, a physical structure of servers and equipment that already run other systems.
In the second model, private cloud or private cloud , the customer contracts the LMS with a dedicated service. The installation of the LMS is performed on a server managed by the supplier and with specific features for the customer.
Updates and maintenance of the LMS, backups, equipment changes and scalability are all performed specifically for the customer. This requires continuous collaboration and communication between the customer and supplier teams.
The third model, corresponds to the most observed trend today. The cloud or cloud LMS is when the LMS is made available as a shared service. To make it clearer to you, it is when you have a single version of the LMS installed on the vendor’s servers and this version is used by several customers at the same time.
However, a logical separation of data from one customer and the other is carried out in such a way that the final perception of the customer is as if he were using a system exclusive to him. In this model, software and hardware updates, when they occur, are applied to all customers at the same time.
In this way, the supplier is able to manage more customers at the same time, which reduces hosting and management costs and provides a better price for the end customer.
For the customer, cloud platforms, with some exceptions, are generally less flexible in terms of customization, since those that are in the private cloud and hosting models by the customer offer more customization features since the LMS is not shared but dedicated to a single customer.
But in terms of stability and scalability, cloud LMSs are usually more robust in this sense because they only maintain a single version that many customers access.
The Future of the LMS
Regarding the use for the educational environment in educational institutions, what we noticed is the focus on improving the educational experience by incorporating new technological resources to make the educational experience more impactful, efficient, engaging and why not, more fun.
In this sense, videos, personalization of content according to the profile of users (adaptive learning or adaptive learning), resources for real-time interaction by video and audio from anywhere, accessibility, gamification and integration with global content providers are the trends in this perspective.
When we look at the use of LMS in corporate environments we see it is a trend clear of the LMS systems evolve to another class, called TMS, Talent Management System , or System Talent Management .
The LMS becomes a module of a TMS that has other modules such as:
Performance Evaluation (Goals and Competencies)
In this way, all processes related to the management and development of employees are unified.
The LMS actually permeates the other TMS processes. For example, in Recruitment, candidates can be assessed using LMS resources.
When it comes to Goals and Competencies , courses can be directly related with the objective of improving performance in goals and competencies. In Succession, to check what positions within the organization a person can take, one can take into account the training he or she performed.
Another point that is also gaining more and more importance and has no room for regression is the question of the analytical capacity of information in these systems. The LMS and the TMS become one of the organization’s systems with the greatest amount of information.
This information is very valuable and being able to make decisions based on them about knowledge management and employee development is of great importance for the organization.
Finally, the issue of new devices and their integration and application with LMSs, such as smart watches, devices that inform their location such as smartphones and tablets, virtual reality technologies. Several suppliers are evolving their platforms in order to make use of these resources to improve engagement and the educational experience.